How to Avoid Employee Burnout

Not only do green industry employees have to work an all-hands-on-deck schedule each spring, but in recent years, the work keeps on coming right through summer, into fall and even over the winter. Still, companies need to encourage employees to take time off when it is practical. If possible, providing paid time off and other benefits can help retain employees throughout the year and bring back seasonal employees when March comes around again.

Mark Van Hoef of Oregon Pride Nurseries said his company works year-round, only shutting down for two weeks at Christmas.

“We work our people really hard during shipping season. It’s long hours, strenuous work, and lots of lifting,” admitted Van Hoef, the Owner/Operator of the wholesale grower located in McMinnville in the heart of the Yamhill Valley, about 40 miles west of Kraemer’s.

To show appreciation to the employees for their hard work, Oregon Pride holds a brunch on a Friday that lands on a pay day at the end of June. The rush is over and work is slowing down, so it’s a good time to provide a special meal at the nursery or sometimes at a local Mexican restaurant.

“It’s a time out, a break to reach out and say thank you for getting us through our busy time; now we’re going to coast. We’ll be busy but not hectic, not crazy busy. It’s an opportunity for them to catch their breath, and be recognized for how hard they work,” he said.

The company also has a bonus plan, where everyone on an hourly wage who works more than 40 hours during a week is awarded an extra $1 for each hour over 40. Rather than waiting until the end of the season to pay bonuses, they are incorporated into employees’ pay at the end of each two-week pay period.

“People understand that since we don’t pay time and a half to agricultural workers out here, we are paying them extra for working beyond an eight-hour work day,” he explained.

“The third thing we do, particularly during hot days and hectic weeks, is bring in fresh oranges, apples or other treats for their 2 p.m. break, just to say, ‘Hey, you know everyone in the office understands you’re working your tails off out there.’ Sometimes we give out ice cream or popsicles. It doesn’t amount to a lot of dollars, but it’s a way of showing we are all in this together, working hard during our busiest time,” he concluded.